‘Post Kim Jae-ho’ stretches again…”The way I need to go is shortstop, now I won’t falter mentally”
Infielder Ahn Jae-seok, who joined the Doosan Bears 17 years after veteran shortstop Kim Jae-ho, is regarded as the ‘post-Jae-ho’. In the long term, Doosan hopes that Ahn and Kim will be the centrepieces of the infield and outfield respectively.
As expected, Ahn has established himself in the first team since his rookie year, proving why he is the “first choice” shortstop. Ahn had a solid rookie season in 2021 (batting .255 with 51 hits, two home runs, and 14 RBIs in 96 games).먹튀검증
Of course, the still-young Ahn had his ups and downs, as the “sophomore jinx” set in. In 2022 (batting .213 with 50 hits, three home runs, and 17 RBIs in 99 games), Ahn spent more time showing disappointment with the ball and field than he should have. One of the more painful moments was his bizarre run against the SSG Landers in Jamsil last year. His defence at shortstop was shaky, and he often had to play second base.
The desperate Ahn Jae-seok rejoined the internal shortstop competition this season with the arrival of Lee Seung-yup. However, after losing the shortstop spot to Lee Yoo-chan from the start of the season, Ahn was sidelined with a back injury in early May just as he was hitting his stride. After a rather lengthy rehabilitation, Ahn recently started playing in the Futures League.
Speaking to MK Sports ahead of the 25 May game against the Goyang Heroes in the Futures League, Ahn said, “Actually, my back hasn’t been good from the start. I think it’s because I increased the intensity of my training from the spring camp. It was more of a hindrance when I was defending than batting. I was disappointed that I had to pull out at a time when my batting was improving, but I told the team that I couldn’t be a negative for the team in defence.”
Doosan Future Team coach Lee Jung-hoon and the club’s training staff were as conservative as possible in checking Ahn’s back condition. As the area was prone to recurrence, the rehabilitation was done in stages.
“Personally, I was in a hurry, but coach Lee Jung-hoon and the training staff kept emphasising that I should go slowly. My back pain is almost gone now, so my physical condition has definitely improved. I was able to get back into the game faster than I expected because I was in good shape while increasing my training intensity. I still feel like my swing timing isn’t quite right, so I’ll have to keep working on it as I play more matches.”
The shortstop position in the Doosan first team is still up for grabs. Park Kye-beom and Kim Jae-ho are currently in the rotation, with Lee Yoo-chan moving to second base. Add to that the return of Ahn Jae-seok to the first team, and the shortstop competition intensifies.
“I want to show something (in the shortstop competition), but I feel like I’ve put it down for now. I had a bad batting average and some injuries. If I make it back to the first team, I’m going to focus on my baseball. Anyway, I think shortstop is the way to go for me completely. I’m confident in defence now, so I want to continue to show good performance while gaining skills and experience in batting.”
In late April, Lee Seung-yeop said of Ahn Jae-seok, “To survive in Jamsil Stadium, you need to hit hard and hit fast. It is difficult to float and go over the centre fence of Jamsil Stadium. A batting line drive will suit you much better,” he ordered.
In response, Ahn Jae-seok said, “It’s definitely the most difficult to produce line drives. Anyway, I’m focusing on sending strong balls to the ground. I think Jamsil Stadium is too big, so it’s very frustrating whenever I get caught in front of the fence. I went through it last year, but I feel like if I keep doing this and that, I will lose more of what is mine. Now, I will focus on maximising my strengths while keeping my mentality steady.”
Ahn went 0-for-2 as a substitute against Goyang on the 24th and 1-for-4 as a starter at shortstop against Goyang on the 25th. “Ahn Jae-seok needs more time to get a feel for the game,” said Lee Jung-hoon. Until the beginning of June, he is expected to play in the Futures League to get a feel for the game.
“I would like to thank the fans for their great interest and encouragement even though I was sick and sluggish at the beginning of this season. I want to make my body stronger and move up to the first team again soon. I will prepare well to reward you with good performances,” Ahn said encouragingly.